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First off, I found Altiris SVS as a software virtualization system for easy program management and protection from viruses. Are there any others (more recent) that work better?

Will running programs virtually slow down their processing, since they have to go through a second program to get to the system resources? My first instinct would be that they would be greatly affected, but none of the reviews I can find mention anything about speed.

Thanks. Any additional help on the subject would be helpful as well.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, of course there will be a performance hit. How much it suffers depends on the program, I imagine, but I think for most day-to-day applications you won't notice much of a slowdown. I wouldn't recommend running a CPU-intensive program like a video game in a virtual environment, though.

If you're using 32-bit Windows, I'd recommend Sandboxie for this sort of thing. It seems to be the most reliable one out there, and I don't recall noticing a performance hit (although I've only used it once).

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Altiris is a bit old now, I think they got taken over by Symantec. The free version that is downloadable is still very good.

If you are using 32 bit Windows, I would recommend it as I have used it a few times and like it.

Other alternatives (ranging in order of price are)

The way these programs work, they do slow down operations, however it is very marginal compared with full blown virtualisation and from my experience with Altiris, it is hardly noticeable.... Not even when doing I/O intensive operations.

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Altiris SVS is similar to Sandboxie, you will not notice a performance hit as you are accessing the computer's real hardware and not any emulation.

however, Sandboxie is up-to-date and under active development.

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A similar product is Returnil Virtual System 2010 Home Free

RVS 2010 uses an advanced anti-malware and virtualization technology. It clones (copies) your operating system and creates a virtual environment for your PC. Instead of loading the native operating system, a clone is loaded that allows you to run your applications and perform your online activities in an entirely isolated environment. In this manner, your actual operating system is never affected by viruses, Trojans, malware and other malicious threats. To return to the actual operating system environment, you just need to restart your PC. While working in the virtual environment, you have the option of saving documents and files so that your data will not be lost when the system is restarted.

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